United States immigration laws have changed dramatically over the past ten years. These changes are most noticeable in the area of detention and deportation or removal of non-citizens with criminal convictions. Many more crimes make immigrants including lawful permanent residents (green card holders) subject to mandatory detention and mandatory deportation.

The effect of these changes has been dramatic. In 1995, approximately 5,500 people were detained on any given day by immigration authorities and some 33,000 were deported. In 2003, over 20,000 people were detained on any given day and over 77,000 were deported.

For many, detention and the commencement of deportation proceedings (now called removal) arise suddenly. The legal process leading to removal can be overwhelming. Although everyone in removal proceedings has the right to be represented by a lawyer, you do not have the right to a court appointed attorney. You must find your own lawyer. There are very few free lawyers for these cases so you may have to pay for a lawyer.